Massereene gunman ‘showed no remorse’

Masserene barracks, Antrim were Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar lost their lives in a terrorist attack
Masserene barracks, Antrim were Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar lost their lives in a terrorist attack

A TERRORIST gunman showed no remorse as he stood over a stricken soldier and shot him at close range, an army comrade who survived the dissident republican attack has told a court.

Mark Fitzpatrick was badly injured in the Real IRA ambush outside Massereene army barracks that claimed the lives of his fellow Royal Engineer sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, and Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham.

Giving evidence at the trial of two men accused of the murders, Mr Fitzpatrick, who has since left the army due to injuries he sustained that night, described watching from the footwell of a car as a gunman stopped over Sapper Azimkar and “finished him off”.

“Whoever it was wanted to cause damage and they finished him off before firing in at me,” he told Antrim Crown Court.

He added: “There was no remorse. He knew what he was doing, he just seemed to do it all quick.”

The court later heard a statement from an army medic indicating that Sapper Quinsey also received shots from close range in the March 2009 attack.

Despite frantic efforts to save the lives of the sappers, both were declared dead shortly after the shootings.

Mr Fitzpatrick was one of three soldiers who survived the ambush at the barracks’ gates in Antrim town as they briefly stepped outside to collect pizzas from two delivery drivers.

They were only hours from flying to Afghanistan to begin a six-month tour of duty and were already dressed in desert fatigues.

High-profile republican Colin Duffy, 43, from Forest Glade in Lurgan, and Brian Shivers, 46, from Sperrin Mews in Magherafelt, deny charges of murder and the attempted murder of six other men, including the two delivery drivers and a security guard.

Mr Fitzpatrick recalled the moment he and his comrades were fired on as they went to collect their pizzas.

“I heard a noise, I don’t know what it was, then I heard someone shout ‘Get down’,” he said.

“As that happened Pat (Azimkar) fell on top of me, I hit the floor and crawled round the car, I looked up and saw a gunman in a balaclava shooting my friend.”

Mr Fitzpatrick sustained gunshot wounds to his hand and shoulder, with one bullet puncturing his lung.

The ex-sapper said he looked out through the window of the pizza delivery car he had crawled into and caught the eye of the gunman.

“When he seen me in the car he opened fire,” he said.

“It was an automatic, probably about 10 to 15 seconds of constant fire.”

Relatives of the murdered sappers were visibly upset in the public gallery as Mr Fitzpatrick recounted the incident to a silent courtroom.

Duffy and Shivers showed no emotion from the dock.

While Mr Fitzpatrick said he saw only one gunman, CCTV footage of the shooting played to the court on Monday on the opening day of the trial showed two masked attackers.

The non-jury trial heard that 63 spent ammunition cartridges and two live ones were found at the scene of the shootings.

Fellow sapper Richard Marshall told the court he made a run for it and took shelter from the hail of bullets in the security sangar at the front of the base.

There he said he found a guard under the table with a pistol in his hand.

“He was sat on the floor with his hands over his ears under the desk crying,” he said.

“I told him to give me his pistol.”

Mr Marshall said he looked out of the window and saw a gunman walk between the two cars where the injured sappers had been lying.

“A figure walked between the cars and then fired off more rounds,” he said.

Sapper Christopher Fairclough was shot in the face during the attack but also managed to escape with his life.

The bullet broke his cheek bone and lodged above his top lip.

“I knew it was gun shots straight away so I turned and ran,” he told judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart.

“I got knocked over by something, I hit the floor and got up and kept running.”

Sapper Fairclough managed to take shelter behind a row of concrete bollards before making his way back into the base.

It was at this point he noticed the blood.

“I didn’t know where it was coming from,” he said.

“I checked myself quickly and realised it was my face.”

Pizza delivery drivers Anthony Watson and Marcin Wietrzynski were both badly injured in the shooting.

A statement from Mr Watson was read to the court while Mr Wietrzynski gave evidence from the witness stand with the aid of a Polish interpreter.

Mr Wietrzynski said he had crouched down behind his car when the shooting started, but then passed out.

“I woke up on the ground, I was all sore, I realised I had been shot,” he said.

“I still heard shots being fired.”

The delivery driver had been shot in the back, bottom and had broken his leg.

The second day of the trial also heard witness statements from a range of army, medical, police and security personnel who were on the scene in the moments after the attack, many of them giving first aid to the injured soldiers.

As well as the murder and attempted murder charges, Duffy and Shivers also deny firearms charges.

The trial continues.